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MOSCOW, April 26 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian popular singer Iosif Kobzon, who once again has been denied a U.S. visa, said it was a U.S. “spit towards Russia.”
“The visa denial is not a spit on me, it is a spit towards the state,” he told journalists on Thursday. “I am disappointed but not giving up.”
On Wednesday, the singer was again denied an U.S. visa, which has been banned for him for 18 years. Iosif Kobzon, who will celebrate his 75th jubilee on September 11, planned to go on a farewell concert tour and wanted to sing in the United States in May-June, giving concerts in New York, Chicago and Boston.
Iosif Kobzon last visited the United States in 1994. A year later the U.S. State Department annulled his multiple entry visa, claiming that the singer might be involved in illegal transactions with substances subject to control. Unofficial sources said the American visa was denied because of Kobzon’s “Possible links to Russian organized crime gangs.” Kobzon has repeatedly refuted these allegations. Since then, the singer’s attempts to get a U.S. visa have been to no avail.
The organizers of Kobzon’s U.S. tour are not so far cancelling his concerts, hoping the Russian singer will finally get over U.S. State Department’s bureaucratic obstacles. The Russian American Consulting Corporation company, which organizes Kobzon's concerts in New York, Chicago and Boston due in May – June, is going to challenge the visa denial for Kobzon.
Lev Trakhtenberg, one of the organizers, told Itar-Tass the situation can yet be remedied. “We shall take a final decision by May 10: either we pay the rent for concert halls or not. It is the deadline. If the issue is not settled by that time, the tour will be cancelled,” he said. “If the situation, let’s hope, is settled, I have no doubts tickets to his concerts will be sold out in ten days. People are waiting for him.”
In his words, it is an extraordinary case. At the same time he expressed the hope that the singer will be finally granted a U.S. visa. “There is a mechanism that makes it possible to have the decision [on visa denial] revised. There have been cases when politicians and other officials used this mechanism. The thing is that I cannot say whether such attempts were successful. Theoretically, it is possible but we have too little time,” he added.